The Netherlands booked their place in their third World Cup final after overcoming a determined Uruguay side 3-2 at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town last night.
The Dutch were strong favourites before kick-off and took an early lead through Giovanni van Bronkhorst’s stunning 40 yard strike. Arguably this world cup’s best goal however was surrendered before half-time when Diego Forlan struck to pull his side level; his long range effort decieving Maarten Stekelenburg, who couldonly flap the ball into the roof of the net.
Uruguay looked to be gaining confidence in the second-half, but two goals in quick succession from Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben put the Netherland’s in control and despite Maxi Pereira’s late strike they held on to secure their tenth victory in a row, stretching their unbeaten run to a record 25 games.
They will now head to Johannesburg where they will face either Germany or Spain as they look to win their first World Cup after finishing as runners-up in 1974 and 1978.
Both sides were forced to make changes to their starting line-ups due to suspensions and injuries. Khalid Boulahrouz came into the Dutch’s defence while Edinson Cavani took suspended hero Luis Suarez’s place in attack alongside Uruguay captain Diego Forlan.
Robben demonstrated the threat he would pose from the outset as he burst past Martin Caceras before Sneijder swung in a cross for Dirk Kuyt who fired a shot over the bar.
It was the Netherland’s left back and captain – Van Bronkhorst – who gave them the lead though with less than 20 minutes gone when he picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and struck a stunning shot into the top corner.
Uruguay struggled after going behind so early but they steadied themselves courtesy of Diego Forlan.
Holland manager Bert van Marwijk made an attacking substitution for the second-half, replacing Demy de Zeeuw with Real Madrid’s Rafael Van der Vaart, a clear statement of intent. The change failed to have the desired effect with the Dutch looking increasingly disjointed whilst the Uruguayans grew in confidence with Forlan forcing a fine save from Stekelenburg with a free-kick from 25-yards out.
Backed by a army of orange in Cape Town, the Netherland’s managed to recover some of their composure after the hour mark though and regained the lead fortuitously when Sneijder’s deflected shot trickled past Fernando Muslera, despite claims of offside against the marginally active Robin Van Persie.
Robben then pressed home his side’s advantage as he arrived in the box to cleverly head Kuyt’s cross into the bottom corner and all but book his country’s place in sundays final.
Maxi Pereira found the net in the depths of injury time to ensure a nervy finish for the Dutch but they held on to secure victory and secure their place in the World Cup final.
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